An irresponsible dog owner left his dog off leash on the north side of the park, where the leash law applies, and the animal barged into the exact space where the north owl normally perches. As the owl flew off, the dog followed it with his eyes.
This is the second recent instance I have recorded on video of dog owners permitting their animals to run loose and harass wildlife on the north side of the park. Leashes are absolutely required in this area and there is no shortage of signs along the paved perimeter trail. The attack on the Burrowing Owls is particularly grievous because they are a protected species, classified as “of special concern.” In December 2016, a dog killed a Burrowing Owl in the park; the following winter, no Burrowing Owls appeared at the park. This winter, two Burrowing Owls have settled in for the season. Irresponsible dog owners seem determined to drive them away again, using their dogs as weapons.
Parks management has long been aware of the festering sore that is the unfenced Off Leash Area, but appears lacking in backbone to take any effective action, not even to repair vandalism damage. The dog owners group washes its hands of responsibility for bad owners and carries out no educational programs. Animal Control has made sporadic efforts at enforcement, but needs to be at the park every day during daylight hours, laying on $250 fines until the clique of irresponsible dog owners stops coming to this park. The city has the legal power not only to fine the owners but also to impound their dogs. Irresponsible owners should be barred from dog ownership.
Most dog owners obey the law and keep their animals under control. They will never leave a pile of poop behind, allow their dog to dig, permit the animal to chase wildlife, or otherwise let their canines revert to the feral past. There are no bad dogs, but there are bad owners. It’s time they took their act somewhere else than Cesar Chavez Park.